Rallies and marches erupted across the country over May Day weekend in reaction to Arizona’s SB 1070. The measure makes illegal immigration a state crime and requires law enforcement to question people suspected of being in the United States illegally. Without legal challenges, it will become law by August. The Arizona Republic reported that demonstrations in other major cities brought in far greater numbers—50,000 in Los Angeles, for example—than Phoenix. Still, thousands attended a morning vigil and afternoon march in Arizona’s capital.
New Mexico also had a strong reaction. On Friday, April 30, Gov. Bill Richardson ordered the state’s Human Rights Division to help New Mexicans traveling through Arizona. The division will provide advice on avoiding detention and assist with legal action if necessary.
In Santa Fe on Saturday, May 1, around 500 people gathered at the DeVargas mall, according to a public safety aide. Photographer Amy Dalness (a former Alibi arts and lit editor) reports the event was high energy and positive, with “lots of dancing and smiles.” Cars honked, people waved and tourists took photos as the march made its way to the Plaza in downtown Santa Fe. The favorite chant of the day, Dalness says, was: “¡Obama! ¡Escucha! ¡Estamos en la lucha!” (Obama! Listen! We are in the struggle!) Demonstrators included workers, Aztec dancers, Veterans for Peace, clergy members and other people of all ages.
In Albuquerque, El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos hosted a Day of Action that incorporated a vigil, concert and party. Though the event was fun and family-friendly, says community organizer Adonai Morales, it was also meant to make a stand against Arizona’s new law. “We wanted to gather support for comprehensive immigration reform,” he says. Hundreds attended, including Albuquerque City Councilor Rey Garduño.
El Centro held the event at Plaza de Encuentro in Barelas, where the organization will launch an immigrant center in June. El Centro will expand its services in fighting for immigrant rights, Morales says, as well as offer courses on English, computer literacy, business development and parenting. The Barelas location (714 Fourth Street SW) is ideal, he says, and will serve as a bridge between immigrants and local Chicanos.